Want to add some easy color and fragrance to your garden this summer? Consider planting sweet peas! This pretty annual is so simple to grow if you follow these guidelines, and there are so many varieties to experiment with, from fragrant heirloom to modern varieties in bright, beautiful colors.
Photos via Chelsea Fuss
Tips for planting sweet peas
1. The best time to plant your sweet peas is in late winter. You can either start them inside or straight into the soil outside. Sweet peas like cold weather and can tolerate light frost so straight into the ground around the end of February in mild climates is perfect! If you live some place with a harsh winter, it might be better to wait until March. And for continuous bouquets all summer, stagger your plantings and continue sowing them through May! You’ll have bouquet through the end of summertime!
2. Be sure to either soak your seeds overnight or put a small nick in them with something sharp like a knife. This will expedite the germination process.
3. Sweet peas like full sun if possible, so find a sunny spot in your garden for them that also gets just a bit of shade. They don’t want to be scorched in the summertime!
4. Add some compost to your soil and make sure it has good drainage! Sweet peas also like to be fertilized during the growing season – fish emulsion works great. Once plants are large enough, mulch around the bottom of the plants to keep weeds away and to keep them consistently moist.
5. When you plant your sweet peas, make sure to keep the seeds consistently moist but not soggy. Don’t let them dry out!
6. Plant the seeds about 1 inch deep and 6 inches apart in groups of three.
7. Once your sweet peas have sprouted. Thin out the seedlings so they are about 6 inches apart.
8. Once your sweet peas grow 2-3 sets of leaves on their stems, pinch them back. This will give you fuller plants and more blooms.
9. When your sweet peas are blooming in the summer, be sure to keep cutting them so they continue to bloom.
10. Secure your sweet pea vines on a trellis. You can easily make one with bamboo rod and twine. You can also use bamboo to make little “tents” for the sweet peas to grow on, just like you would for garden peas.
11. When you’re ready to harvest them, do so in the morning or evening when they are well hydrated.
12. To use them for flower arranging, cut the stems at a diagonal angle so they will drink the largest amount of water as possible. It’s ideal if you can put them straight into water when harvesting, let them sit a few hours, and then re-cut the stems under water when you arrange them. Sweet peas should last 3-5 days in a vase if kept away from drafts and away from bright sunshine.